The negative is that their driving is truly terrifying. Weaving through traffic, speeding whenever they get the chance, slipping through impossible gaps at high speed are just a few of their tricks. Shenzhen traffic is a law unto itself and the usual road rules do not apply.

The saving grace is that often the traffic is too slow for drivers to speed and they only get a chance to pretend they are in a Grand Prix when they’re on a stretch of freeway. Consider that there are now two and a half million cars on Shenzhen streets and growing at 10% per year. That means, of the cars around you, at least 10% of the drivers have been driving for less than a year. To us this seems a conservative figure.

Another thing that gives us cause for thought is the level of glasses wearing. Some 90 percent of Chinese are myopic. Despite a licence-testing regime that, on the face of it, is severe, we are scratching our heads to think of even one single Shenzhen taxi driver who wears glasses. This could explain why no taxi driver seems to be able to anticipate anything that might be about to happen ahead or why braking always happens at the last most terrifying moment. They didn’t see it! Doubtlessly there is more to this than meets the eye, but we prefer not to think about it.

Strangely enough, the level of serious accidents does not seem to be high. The worst involve bicycle riders and peasants who have come in from the country and bicycle on main roads with a disregard for safety.


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